Dirtection Inc: episode 8
When boffins go bad. As one gruesome mystery ends, another begins.
The offices of Dirtection Inc are to be found in a luxuriously appointed tenement in a mouldering North London wasteland nestling betwixt the fashionable watering holes of Kentish Town and Belsize Park. Hither was I bound with the characteristic spring in my step which invariably comes to me when, having solved one unfathomable mystery, I am about to embark upon an even more unfathomable one.
For the past few months I had been embroiled in the grisly events at the top secret Pen Wiggessy Research Base deep in the heart of the English countryside. Let me be the first to admit that I am not a fan of the countryside. If you have only seen it on television you may be deceived into thinking that it is a place where the sun always shines on fields filled with smiling cows, golden corn and spritely blonde women with freshly shampooed hair. Such is not the case. The countryside is, in my experience, cold, wet, muddy and infested with blood-sucking insects some of which, as I was soon to discover, are of an especially malevolent disposition.
When I arrived at the Base it was in the guise of a humble keyboard cleaning operative. This, I should say, is far from the truth. In fact, I think I may justifiably claim to be one of the world’s leading authorities on keyboard fluff.
It is my expertise in this field which has brought me to the attentions of one of the more secretive bits of the British Secret Service and, at their behest, I was dispatched to Penn Wiggessy to try to discover the cause of the bizarre behaviour which had broken out in the hamlets, crofts and villages round about.
Ostensibly an agricultural facility, the Pen Wiggessy Base is, in fact, engaged in some decidedly hush-hush research into the military application of psychoactive fruits, vegetables and assorted creepy-crawlies. Theirs is a quest for things which when they bite (in the case of horseflies) or are bitten into (in the case of tomatoes) by enemies of the state, will immediately render said enemies as loopy as a hula-hoop.
To my expert eye, the trail of fluff told the whole story. A piece of Number 46 pocket fluff found in the lab coat of the resident computer cleaning operative (a man named Smith) was a perfect match for some fluff taken from the fly feeding-troughs of Professor Goodbody, the crusty old geezer in charge of horsefly development. I noticed that there was an air vent linking Professor Goodbody’s office with that of Smith and this gave his psychedelically-inclined flies swift access to the latter’s succulently quivering flesh. Having been soundly bitten by the creatures, Smith soon became a responsive target for Professor Goodbody’s fiendish machinations and the two of them determined to extend the Professor’s research by releasing hallucinogenic horseflies into the community at large.
As you may know, Number 46 pocket fluff is a close relative of Number 37 keyboard fluff. Indeed, apart from the location of origin (which is to say a pocket or a keyboard) the two are almost identical. It didn’t take me long, therefore, to realise that it must have been this same Smith who had accidentally deposited the Number 37 fluff into the keyboard of Fenella Marbury-Heighton (MBE), Director of the Base. Once I had made this connection, I was able to piece together the whole dreadful story.
Professional rivalry is a powerful emotion. When Smith realised that my arrival had cast him from his position as the Base’s fluff expert, he was driven over the edge of insanity and used the Director’s computer to modify the staff database to make it appear that I was an enemy agent!
And that was not the only example of a malevolent professional jealousy at work. Professor Goodbody had a long-standing rival, Dr Darius Graticule, a botanist responsible for the breeding of psychoactive tomatoes. Realising the threat posed to his project by Professor Goodbody’s hippy horseflies, Dr Graticule brutally murdered the Professor, wrecking his laboratory in the process thereby liberating yet more hallucinogenic horseflies through the broken windows. To top it all, Graticule then had the audacity to blame the murder on Swithins, Professor Goodbody’s subordinate, claiming that Swithins had done the deed in order to gain professional advancement for himself. Dr Graticule might have got away with it but for my intervention. For while people may lie, fluff does not!
It was with a sense of professional pride that I bade farewell to my colleagues at the Base – Fenella (we were, by now, on first name terms), Ethel from Admin and Mr Tattler (he of the hairy ears) in Accounts, when I suddenly noticed in my Inbox an intriguing email sent from Dirtection Inc headquarters:
“Urgent!” (it said) “You must return at once! Three horrible headless corpses found in City dealing room! Reply asap, Janet.”
I must admit this gave me quite a start. Not the horrible headless corpses which, frankly, are the sorts of things you run into all the time in the keyboard cleaning business. No, the thing that had me worried was that the email had been sent by Janet. I didn’t know a Janet. As I once again entered the familiar offices of Direction Inc this was a mystery which I was determined to solve.
Next: Who is Janet and where are the horrible heads of the headless corpses? Will a trail of fluff lead to the solution?